It’s a word that ignites fear and excitement in the heart of every family, big or small. They have the capability of turning into miraculous bonding experiences or Satan’s idea of the ultimate birthday gift.Don’t get me wrong: roadtrips can be great if you’re traveling with the right people, but if the recipe isn’t right, it can turn into a total and complete disaster.
I travel alone when I go back and forth to university, so I’ve become accustomed to talking with cars on the road and listening to books on tape. I roadtripped with my family from Oklahoma to Washington and back and traced along the south coast of Ireland with them as well. I also took a spring break skiing trip with some friends that ended with me driving everyone back hungover. Moral of the story: don’t roadtrip with lightweights ;).
But as awful as they can be, I do have some fantastic memories. It seems like the bad taste of your last roadtrip finally leaves your mouth after a while and you’re ready to start all over again. I suppose it’s a love/hate relationship.
That being said, I’m currently roadtripping right now, and I’m beginning to remember how difficult it is to be in a car with other people. Especially when those people are your family. And they sing all the time. So I’m just going to list off some pointers and ideas (food included) that would make your roadtrips a little bit more bearable:
If You’re Flying Solo
- Bring books on tape. It’s not nerdy or lame and it keeps you engaged during the drive. I listened to The Alchemist on a trip back to school and it was great, especially when all I had to look at was the monotony of the desert.
- If you’re not into books, then try a language program that you can go through in the car. I’m using Pimsleur French on my next school roadtrip, but there’s so many different programs. You can even check some out from your local library!
- Snacks are the holy grail of roadtripping by yourself. Make sure you’ve prepared or opened the food ahead of time, because you won’t have anyone to open it for you. And for the love of God, do not try to eat a salad while driving. It always ends badly. See below for the list of food I’ve previously packed.
- Use cruise control. It will save you on gas, but as everyone should know, don’t use it in the rain or snow. That can be a bummer, but it is what it is.
- Watch your back and be safe. On my way back to school, my broken headlight had popped off so I stopped at a Taco Bell to tape it back on. Some guy kept trying to convince me that he had some heavy duty tape in his barn, if only I’d follow him there. Mr. Creepy-Barn-Owner was barking up the wrong tree.
If You’re Surrounded by Crazy People
- Bring headphones. I cannot emphasize this enough. You will need them and you will use them copiously. I recommend sound isolating earbuds, but sometimes even that isn’t enough.
- Earplugs are great for driving at night when everyone else is perky and you’re trying to sleep. I’ve been using them every night and they’re a godsend.
- Do not underestimate the power of the people you are traveling with. You’re best friend could become your worst enemy in the span of 30 minutes, so don’t lose your cool over the little things.
- If you get motion sickness, take some Dramamine, but only if you’re not driving. I don’t advocate taking medicine unless you absolutely have to, but motion sickness is hell on earth and I don’t wish it upon anyone. I try to take the natural route and eat ginger candies, which settle my stomach.
- Wear exercise bottoms, a t-shirt, and jacket, no matter what the season. Sitting in a car long-term will cause you to sweat like a sinner in church but air conditioning could make you wish you were dead, so layer, layer, layer.
- Games are a must. I recommend Apples to Apples, but my favorite game is a verbal edition of Build Your Own Adventure. Each person builds a story using one sentence and it’s tons of fun! My family and I play Name that Movie Quote and the classic Alphabet Game, but Google is full of ideas as well.
- Last, but not least, is food. Depending on how many of you there are, you will probably eat enough to feed the entire Chinese army. So pack bulky and filling food in a cooler. I usually bring:
- Nori and blanched collard wraps with rice, radish, carrot, and tofu (recipe to follow).
- Roasted chickpeas, which are great because they’re cheap, tasty, and versatile.
- Julienned vegetables, like cucumber or carrots.
- A bag of organic apples.
- Energy bars.
- Resuable water bottles.
- A jar of nut butter and a loaf of bread, for sandwiches.
There you have it! A recipe for the collard and nori wraps will be up soon!!